Tottenham face battle from Barcelona to land key target after Pochettino declares interest
By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Barcelona have made an approach for key summer Tottenham target Samuel Umtiti, according to his club Lyon.
The 22-year-old was called up to the France Euro 2016 squad on the back of a fine season for the French club and has attracted interest from across Europe.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed he is monitoring the versatile defender, while West Ham have also been strongly linked with him.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has revealed Umtiti was the subject of an approach from Barcelona but stressed negotiations between the two clubs have not yet begun.
“Barcelona have approached us about Umtiti about 10 days ago,” Aulas told Eurosport, as cited by the Evening Standard. “But there are no negotiations taking place yet. Samuel is not on the verge of leaving the club.”
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Reports in Spain have suggested Umtiti is close to a move to Camp Nou but the defender’s brother and agent has played down an imminent transfer.
Umtiti is regarded as one of the most highly rated young defenders in Europe and was included in France’s Euro 2016 squad after replacing Jeremy Mathieu.
The Cameroon-born star has been a mainstay of the Lyon team that finished second in Ligue 1 this season and is able to play at either left-back or centre-half.
Umtiti admitted earlier this month that he is flattered by the interest of Tottenham.
This came after Pochettino told French radio station RMC Sport that Umtiti is one of the players on Spurs’ radar as they look to reinforce the Premier League’s meanest backline.
“Yes, Umtiti is an interesting player with great potential that could come to England,” Pochettino said, when asked specifically about the youngster. “He is one of the players that our recruitment team is following.”
The 22-year-old centre-back spoke highly of the Spurs manager when those comments were put to him.
“It is flattering that Pochettino is interested in me, he is a manager that I like and his team is performing well,” Umtiti said. “I watch all the leagues but I think the Spanish league suits me best.”
In other Tottenham transfer news, the club are keeping close tabs on a highly rated Holland central midfielder.